Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich on Thursday evening spoke with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and briefed him on the goings on in Jerusalem, where some 200 Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia protested in front of the national police headquarters, following several recent incidents of police violence against Ethiopians including the shocking assault of an Ethiopian Jewish soldier.
Netanyahu accepted the recommendation of Aharonovitch regarding the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee whose members will meet with representatives of the Ethiopian community and examine their claims.
"I condemn the behavior of the police officer and volunteer police officer in the beating incident of an Ethiopian soldier, and I'll see to it that those responsible are brought to justice and will not continue in the Israeli police," said Aharonovitch.
He added, however, “At the same time no one should take the law into their own hands and I condemn the violence against police officers and call for calm and restraint on the part of the demonstrators.”
At least 13 people were injured in Thursday’s demonstration, as protesters blocked Chaim Bar-Lev Street as well as the path of the Jerusalem light rail.
Large police forces were on scene trying to disperse the protest using mounted officers and various dispersal means. The officers prevented the protesters from entering the national headquarters.
"No to discrimination, no to racism. Democracy is in danger, the police are violent," shouted the Ethiopian protesters.
Gadi Yevarkan, director of the Center for Social Equality for Ethiopian Jews, said "this is the price of abandonment and racism over the course of years. Our youth is in despair, and this is only the beginning if the state does not act."
Earlier on Thursday leading activists in the Ethiopian Jewish community met with Police Chief Yohanan Danino to discuss the recent violent incidents.
The issue was brought into national attention on Sunday when a police officer was caught on a security camera brutally assaulting an Ethiopian Jewish soldier in uniform in the city of Holon.
The soldier was trying to go home when he came across the officer who told him the street was closed. After the soldier again requested that he be let pass, the officer suddenly attacked him, striking him repeatedly before throwing him violently to the ground.
The officer was suspended as an investigation was launched into the incident, with Danino announcing he would be fired.